I know, this is going to be bad. Jason, you're turning on everything that you've ever stood for (at least for the last six years). No, it isn't that bad...you'll see. I didn't even want to commit this to the internet, but after talking it out with my wife she said I have no choice.
I'm experiencing slight buyer's remorse. I've been sure of my vote for McCain since I cast my vote for him in the primary (at that time I thought I would vote for Huckabee, but by that time we were seeing just how much ass The Surge was kicking and I almost shed a patriotic tear as I filled out the ballot). But then the last six month happened. Let me take you through my process.
Obama comes across as a very intellectual guy. But more importantly, he comes across as intellectually generous. He seems always willing to meet the other guy where he is at and give credit where credit is due. I really admire that in a man. McCain has been much more stingy in giving credit where credit is due, and much more apt to criticize Obama on a technicality than vice versa. After the first debate conserservatives were trying to say that McCain won and pointed to the fact that very often Obama said, "You're right," to McCain. I was a little baffled because I thought that spoke much more well of Obama and his fair-mindedness than it proved that McCain had won the debate.
Running of the Campaign:
My favorite conservative commentator, Michael Medved, says that the way a person runs their campaign is an excellent indicator of whether or not they will be a good president. Well that advice may come around to backfire on him because it seems to me fairly obvious that Obama has run the better campaign. This whole business of McCain "suspending" his campaign to give attention to the financial crisis was embarassing, erratic and untrue (he continued to run his ads during the "suspension"). He can't seem to decide on his theme or tactics; he stated that Reverend Wright was off the table, but then he went after the tenuous connection to Bill Ayers—and Obama rightly spanked McCain on the fact that he wasn't man enough to say it to his face. On the other hand Obama has run an excellent campaign, and he has never cracked under the pressure (when Biden starting looking like a real sorry pick, when McCain surged in the polls). The guy has been as cool as a cucumber, and clearly he is the more even-tempered of the two men (perception being all I have, perception being everything).
Faith of Our Fathers:
Honestly, Obama speaks more eloquently about his faith than McCain does. It is not a prerequisite for me that my candidate be a Christian, but I am intrigued by his Christianity. No doubt he and I would have disagreements about how our shared faith should be administered, but he is a much more convincing Christian, it seems to me, than John McCain is.
Being the President of the United States:
There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama comes across as much more "presidential" than McCain. Obama pointed out that he doesn't, "Look like all those other guys on the dollar bills," but with his oratory skills, the way he carries himself and his magnanimous disposition he could have fooled me. Now, coming across as presidential is not the most important thing in my my mind, not by a longshot. But perhaps it deserves a little more importance than I give it credit for. When I think about how our next president would react to an emergency situation I feel much more at ease when I think about president Obama than I do about president McCain. Like I said, he is intellectually generous, intellectually agile and seems more apt to do what needs to be done rather than be bound and gagged by his ideology (kind of like Bill Clinton). Look, I know that is going to just kill a lot of conservatives, but the last time I checked our leaders don't speak from Sinai and our beliefs weren't handed to us on stone tablets etched out by the finger of God (unless you have hard evidence in demonstration to the contrary in whichcase I would love to see it).
If I were voting strictly on the issues there is no doubt that I would vote for McCain (though I would pay less in taxes under Obama, but that is solely selfish reasoning). If I were voting strictly on the man, on his temperament and on his ability to lead and his effectiveness as a leader, I think at this time I'd be leaning more towards Obama.
But the Big But: In the end much of the criticism about Obama is true and difficult to get away from. He doesn't have executive experience, he's never taken on his own party, he hasn't even finished a whole term as a senator, those are no small facts. McCain has a long and sometimes unfortunate history of reaching across the isle to make things happen. His Maverick status is not self-inflicted—the media loved him when he was frequently at odds with the Bush administration. And, at the end of the day you really only have to say one thing to bring me running back home to John McCain: Supreme Court Nominees. I want people who believe in truth that is real, not the truth of the moment, or the truth that has evolved, but the truth that is everlasting and not up for debate.
So at this point, on October 12, 2008, I still pull the lever for John McCain, but I have my doubts.